Objectives: Endothelial dysfunction is a known precursor of atherosclerosis and can be assessed by measuring the brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) via ultrasonography. This study investigated endothelial function in young type 1 diabetics without cardiovascular morbidity or diabetes-related pathology.
Methods: Young diabetics and healthy controls were recruited, both meeting strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. To prove absence of subclinical atherosclerosis, intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements at the carotid bifurcation were done in all of them. FMD was measured at the brachial artery. The results were compared using the t-test and the influences of different variables on FMD were assessed using multiple linear regression.
Results: Twenty-six diabetics (23.4+/-5.8 years) and 36 healthy volunteers (23.1+/-2.8 years) were recruited. The duration of diabetes was 9.2+/-5.3 years; metabolic control was moderate (HbA1c 7.6+/-1.0%) and IMT was normal in both groups. FMD was significantly impaired in type 1 diabetics (7.13+/-0.43 vs. 8.77+/-0.43%; p=0.002). The FMD grade was associated with diabetes and age. Patients with a good metabolic control (HbA1c</=7.0%) had a better FMD.
Conclusions: In type 1 diabetics, even without preclinical or clinical atherosclerosis, endothelial function is already disturbed and can be detected using ultrasonography.